‘The Sleight’ starring Woodstock’s Rikki Lee Travolta and Amy Stricker to premiere at Gene Siskel Film Center

‘The Elvis Conspiracy’ by Travolta wins latest Best Screenplay Award

Rikki Lee Travolta of Woodstock co-stars in "The Sleight," a film screening March 27 in Chicago.

Fans of Rikki Lee Travolta of Woodstock can see the actor back on the big screen when “The Sleight” from Director Ben Kurstin premieres at the Midwest Film Festival’s Emerging Filmmaker Night at the Gene Siskel Film Center on Monday, March 27, in Chicago.

The thriller with dark comedy undertones follows a down-on-his-luck hotel ballroom magician who is drugged and kidnapped by a trio of mysterious women who believe him to be someone they once knew, a news release stated. It tackles issues of both faith and morals, but without heavy-handed judgment. It’s thought-provoking entertainment.

“The Sleight” also stars Amy Stricker, who appeared in the 2017 Jeff Award-winning production of “High Fidelity,” and was seen this season in a riveting performance on “Chicago PD.” Co-starring are Chinese American actress Freda Hu of Los Angeles and Isabel Fugatt in her cinematic debut.

Travolta gained fame when he was brought to Chicago to star in “Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding.” His run in Chicago was so popular, he went on to appear as the groom in productions across the country.

A natural spokesperson, Travolta parlayed his acting success into a career in marketing as the head of public relations for such companies as Empire Today and Other World Computing. He now handles PR for Steven Adler of Guns N’ Roses fame.

Travolta continues to make critically acclaimed appearances in select film and stage projects. In 2022, he appeared in “I Hate Hamlet,” earning a Best Performer nomination for the third time in the BroadwayWorld Regional Theatre Awards. He was previously nominated for his starring role in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and his supporting role in Tracy Letts’ “August: Osage County.”

“The Sleight” is the second film from 54 Scripts Productions, following the success of the award-winning short film “Yellow Polka Dot.” Kurstin is the screenwriter of both films, and served as cinematographer on “Yellow Polka Dot.” Tin Nguyen served as cinematographer for “The Sleight” and director for “Yellow Polka Dot.”

In addition to “The Sleight,” other films slated to be screened include “Labor of Love” by Hannah Rosalie Wright, “Close as Brothers” by Jennifer Hardacker, “JOE” by Noah Rogers, “Masterpieces” by Bridget Johnson and Ronan Morrissey, “An Apocalypse” by Matt O’Connell, “Having a Nice Day” by Jesse Rothenberg and Zo Zosak, “Crawdad” by Jess Myers Rigoni, “Eaten” by Andrew Paul Davis, and “Bliss” by Dalin Nelson.

The Midwest Film Festival’s Emerging Filmmaker Night will kick off with a networking reception at 6:30 p.m. Screenings of the evening’s 10 films will begin at 7:30 p.m. There will be an after-party at the Emerald Loop Bar & Grill.

The Gene Siskel Film Center is at 164 N. State St. in Chicago. For tickets, visit www.siskelfilmcenter.org/emerging-filmmakers or call the box office at 312-864-2085.

Screenplay award

In related news, Travolta has earned top honors for Best Feature Script in the Gangtok International Film Festival for his original thriller screenplay “The Elvis Conspiracy.”

In film, Travolta has worked with such artists as Ron Howard, Chase Masterson, Peter Mayhew and Scout Taylor-Compton. He also produces the television series “The Polish Cooking Show.”

The GIFF award is the ninth Best Screenplay accolade for “The Elvis Conspiracy” in the last five months. It is an alternative history thriller that reimagines the legacy of Elvis Presley and Col. Tom Parker by incorporating popular and obscure conspiracy theories.

“My goal is always to create projects that entertain people and do things in a way that is unique and adds to the creative canvas of society,” Travolta said in the release. “I am absolutely honored at the attention ‘The Elvis Conspiracy’ is receiving.

“Elvis is a very hot topic in Hollywood right now,” he said. “Anytime you can take a hot topic and give it a totally unique twist, it can really resonate. It creates a story people want to see and experience. That’s what ‘The Elvis Conspiracy’ does.”

As a fiction writer, Travolta’s novel “My Fractured Life” was an Amazon Top 10 Recommendation. To learn more, visit www.LifeandTimes.biz.

Radio show

“It’s Showtime with Rikki Lee” is broadcast at 3 p.m. Fridays on Huntley-based station 101.5 FM. Visit www.HuntleyRadio.com.

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